RUSH

RUSH

Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF, discusses his work on Ron Howard’s 1970s Formula One motor racing movie

Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF, chose to work with ALEXA and ARRIRAW on RUSH

Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF, chose to work with ALEXA and ARRIRAW again on his latest film, which tells the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda’s epic battle for the 1976 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship. Directed by Ron Howard, Rush mixes historic archive footage with newly shot material to create a vivid evocation of one of the most exciting F1 seasons ever.

The ALEXA camera package, grip equipment and lighting was supplied by the ARRI Rental Group, drawing on resources from ARRI Media and ARRI Lighting Rental in London, and ARRI Rental Germany to support the production across Europe.

ARRI Media: What was it like recreating Lauda’s famous crash at the Nürburgring?

Anthony Dod Mantle: It was a massive day. We went to the exact spot where it happened and very religiously recreated it as it was. The original archive footage of that crash is by a young kid with a Super 8 camera and it’s a really brilliant shot. I wanted to get that in there, so eventually we went ahead and contacted the guy, who is now 42 years old, and I replicated his material. We really built the scene around that, with the same angles and spaces, and I think the crash is amazing, being a mixture of what we did and what was done in post.

AM: Was the process of sourcing suitable archive footage difficult?

ADM: It was a period of three or four months, long before we started shooting. We discovered through very early prep testing that there’s a certain kind of archive footage you can use. Once Ron and I found stuff we liked, they’d try to find the best source they could – hopefully the original negative, but that wasn’t always possible. My task, together with the post guys, was to push it in the direction I was thinking for the film, forcing it into the world of color and contrast that I was beginning to visualize.

The ALEXA system is without doubt the first digital image capture system to satisfy the more fearful or skeptical sectors of the filmmaking community.

AM: What are your thoughts on the ALEXA system, having used it on several different productions?

ADM: The ALEXA system is without doubt the first digital image capture system to satisfy the more fearful or skeptical sectors of the filmmaking community. In turn this has accelerated the sad decline in the amount of celluloid being used, although there are stories that are at last now being told, due to greater access to affordable shooting formats. Speaking for myself, today I am – thank God – being offered the choice to shoot on film or digital, regardless of the budget. This suggests to me that ultimately we might have a sufficient number of professional people who can actually see the value and potential applications of both formats.

AM: You had the ALEXA Studio on Rush – were you operating yourself?

ADM: I did try to operate the A-camera, which was the Studio. I couldn’t always be there, but mostly I managed to be on the key dramatic camera. For our biggest day we had 27 cameras, but there were often seven to ten, with second unit, plate units, on-board cameras and coverage cameras waiting on certain corners of the race track. I love the optical viewfinder of the ALEXA Studio, and I miss the calm experience of the purring mirror and gate of a 35 mm camera inside my head. ARRI is working very hard and at considerable expense to make the optical viewfinder work with digital image capture. It will perhaps never be quite the same as it was on celluloid, but they are making the effort.
 

AM: Why was ARRIRAW the right choice for this film?

ADM: Having agreed on the historic archive footage we were going to use, I started thinking about how I was going to shoot the new material. The archive footage was of inferior resolution and luminance, but I knew that I was going to marry everything together on another level – one that I deemed appropriately visceral for 1970s Formula One motor racing. We were shooting in the UK between January and June, and attempting to battle the weather gods there is a fruitless ambition, so latitude was the word. Gathering as much information as possible meant I could decide on the aesthetic look I wanted – ARRIRAW was the obvious choice.